If you have a chance, read Andrea Wulf's The Invention of Nature first. Amazing book. Changed how I see the world simply by spelling out the fact that Humboldt was the first human to really see interconnectedness, ecosystems. He saw us cutting rain forests down in South America and said this is going to change the Earth's climate -- back in 1790's!
Magnificent Rebels is about a little town of Jena and all the intellectual exuberance that came out of it a few light years ago. Many of our ideas about reality were born there. Wulf explores the actors and the time they lived in. NYT review here
Bonus, a woman is central to the cast of characters.